Crow Medicine Woman Marilyn Yarlott (Tantoo Cardinal) visits Longmire (Robert Taylor) with a tempting offer: to take him to Malachi Strand (Graham Greene). She compares Malachi to a Japanese bark beetle spreading, killing everything.
Malachi and his hoods have been hiding out on the Crow Reservation. At first, she had a profitable arrangement selling them deer and elk—until Malachi compared the bullets that killed his men to a slug he found in an elk, which proved she saved Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips). With her camp burned to the ground, she’s hiding out from Malachi and is now willing to lead Longmire to eradicate the invasive species.
She guides him onto the Crow Reservation and is shot. Longmire returns fire, killing the lone security watching that section of the perimeter. The sheriff transports Marilyn to the hospital where she dies from her injuries.
Vic (Kate Sackhoff) doesn't take the news well that Longmire could have been killed. She warns him, “I don't think you understand. I cannot lose you.” They are sitting on the bench outside the office, and Longmire is moved by her love for him. She has already lost her baby saving his life, and losing him is not an option. Walt Longmire is a closed-off Gary Cooper-type, but the way he's rubbing his hands on his thighs—that look—signifies a big change is coming.
Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez) is on a “sinking ship” and is trying his damnedest to salvage whatever part of his business, the Four Arrows casino, and his reputation that he can. Knowing Henry has the respect of the Native Americans that he lacks, Nighthorse is practically begging him to take over the daily grind of running the casino. “If this place goes down, a lot of people will suffer,” Nighthorse laments.
He's hoping his transparency with Henry will lead to Standing Bear using his clout to smooth things over with the public. However, before Henry has a chance to decide, both him and Nighthorse are whisked away from the premises by Nighthorse's two bodyguards when an unruly mob protesting the casino mogul's activities gets too close for comfort. Safety is short-lived because one of the bodyguards—Brian, who’s secretly working for Malachi—shoots the other one and takes Nighthorse and Henry to Malachi, who deadpans, “My two favorite people in one place. Yeah, we got a lot of catching up to do.”
Later, after beating them to a bloody pulp, Malachi makes his intentions known that he plans on taking over the Four Arrows. To do this, he makes Nighthorse film himself confessing that he betrayed his people, adding that to set things right, he's turning ownership over to Malachi.
All this is happening on the southeast corner of the Crow Reservation, and in true TV-land fashion—especially since this is the final episode—all the clues come together a little too conveniently, enabling Longmire and Mathias (Zahn McClarnon) to lead their officers on a well-executed raid of Malachi's operations. Henry has already escaped using an old but apparently still useful “come a little closer” trope, turning the tables on one of his captors. Nighthorse is not so lucky. As he's being lynched by a chain, Longmire—in that fracture of a mind's eye—considers all the times Nighthorse has been a thorn in his side, all the evil that had gone before, but it ends with the recent memory of Nighthorse saving his goose in the courtroom. Longmire rescues a grateful Jacob Nighthorse.
The last episode of Longmire was thrilling, poignant, and beautifully measured—and no more so than in the tense, final showdown. Malachi's vehicle is headed straight at Longmire as the sheriff levels a shotgun and peppers the windshield. Vic watches in anguish, her greatest fear about to be realized, when she springs forward and shoves Longmire out of the way as the vehicle thunders past, ramming a pile of logs.
Playing possum, Malachi manages to knife Longmire in the gut when Longmire opens the door to see if he's alive. Longmire pulls his handgun, triggering several rounds into the menacing thug's chest and bringing Malachi's rein to an end. A most rewarding conclusion to a storyline that, at times, became maudlin—though Graham Greene's performance was always right on note, delivering just the required amount of condescending sneer. This is how you say goodbye to the bad guy.
I've groaned time and again at the kindergarten puppy love antics of Longmire and Vic, but from the moment they kissed in this episode to both of them lounging on the front porch with Vic cradled in his arms—what can I say, it works. Not so sure I bought Longmire retiring and Cady (Cassidy Freeman) running for sheriff, but the final image of Walt Longmire in a happy place brought immense satisfaction to this viewer. In other closures, we see Henry threading his way through the casino, now running it like a modern day Bogart in Casablanca. Zach is back in the department where he belongs, and The Ferg on his way to make things right with Meg.
A superb ending that begs the question: any movies in Longmire's future? One would hope the cowboy has not ridden off into the sunset for good.
David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.